Aspects of depersonalization disorder.
Depersonalisation Derealisation Disorder presents a huge personal challenge, its aspects take tenacious poise and insight to manage. Emotion, body, the outer world, and personal history each divided off and negated, instead of being in a coherent, single, existential experience. There are four text blocks below with descriptions of the main aspects of DDD.
* Your self-sense not extending to include your body (desomatization). Some feel they are outside their body, or nowhere. Rather than your own, your numbed body seems something ‘other’, mechanical and independent. Limbs are as levers, expressions are automatic, nothing much to do with you. You feel detached from your appearance and gestures. It seems false to represent myself as here. Speaking is strange, some autonomous function from your disowned, inert body, the voice going out into a derealized world – to you an emotionally distanced, incidental sound that is not yours. Perhaps, it is uncomfortable that others hear you when you are unable to feel your own presence. A friend with DDD chose to be mute for a year.
* All outer perceptions appearing unreal (derealisation), your location a vague periphery you might have once imagined in a half-conscious moment. Surroundings seem barely ‘there’ as an actuality and you feel absent from them. All senses are affected but (to me) derealisation is most intense visually, a fuzzing of conscious experience, rather than an optical blur. All looks 2-dimensional, with vitality and good feeling gone from the image, which is disregarded as real [though you know it to be]. People appear as shapes, not living 3-dimensional beings. Derealization brings a tiring, indistinct divide between your eyes and the outer world, an ethereal but subjugating obstruction one wishes could be scratched away in hope of revealing the vibrant realness beyond it.
* Losing emotions, especially positive ones (deaffectualization). You can ‘go through the motions’ daily but without expected concurrent feelings; no satisfaction, no feeling at a celebration etc. You still know what would be the natural response to some situation and can show it in your expressions, as an appropriate contrivance when the spontaneous emotional layer is absent for you. At other times, DDD can mean you miss something and inadvertently seem inappropriately indifferent. Typically, you feel upset about not feeling, but that concern proves that you do care – while not experiencing it in DDD.
* Memories are reliable as information but lack emotion and familiarity (de-ideation). I find even a daily task done for decades can seem entirely new. While knowing memories are true, they are as if not of your own life, even a lie to speak of. Retrieving images of the past can be limited, frequented places unfamiliar.
Past events can seem sequentially misplaced. The emotional continuum of one’s life could be flattened, fragmented and scarce, feeling absent from time itself, a step removed. The loss of ‘self-in-world-through-time’ and of its recall, is life withheld, a painful theft. If I woke to find it is a past year, that would actually be easier to believe than the surreal depersonalised years that have been.